Chapter 1 : The War
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Disclaimer: I own nothing in the world of Harry Potter. I do not own any of the Delacour family; however, I did create Ashley Delacour myself, and would ask that she remain only in my writing.
Song lyrics courtesy of the Cinematic Orchestra, "To Build a Home".
Her heart beat wildly, her hair whipping back as she bolted down the corridor. Her eyes flitted quickly to the walls, dodging parts of crumbled columns as they came crashing down. She yelped with the portraits as they descended from their hangings, their screams muffled as the canvas fell to the ground, silencing them forever.
Panic was starting to constrict everything inside her as she ran past fallen students, Aurors and Death Eaters. She pushed on as she saw younger students leaning over one another, trying to aid and drag each other out of harm’s way.
She was a Healer, and yet, she was bypassing all of those she was legally and morally obligated to. If anyone came out of this alive, and testified against her, she would be in serious trouble with the Ministry. With all the hurt and turmoil that was going on, she wasn’t sure if all their money could bribe the persecutors out of a lawsuit.
But it was human fear that was driving her; not her training, not the law, not even her selflessness in her profession and her desire to help. Not fear for her own life, but fear that she would not reach him in time.
It was basic instinct, to care for one’s family before anyone else. She had never seen so much death, and even then, she found herself frequently sliding to her knees to avoid red and green jets that were flying between Death Eaters and Aurors. She didn’t have time to process the fact that people she recognized and friends that her husband had worked with for years, were dropping to the floor, their eyes growing still as they exhaled their last breaths.
One hit. That’s all it would take to permanently disable her from reaching him. She was blindly running, the crashing of debris and the high pitched screams rang in her ears, rendering them useless against the warning of incoming attacks.
Suddenly, a column detached from its holding in the wall, just feet before her, crashing onto the ground with a disturbance that seemed to shake the whole castle. The dust and dirt consumed the hallway immediately, flooding her eyes and mouth with dirt and grime. Her eyes watered as she heaved to clear her respiratory system of the debris.
Don’t stop, she told herself, you’re almost there.
She wasn’t even sure how they got separated. All she remembered was coming with Draco to the castle, quickly losing Harry and Ron as soon as they set foot on the grounds. Draco ordered her to find the other girls, perhaps thinking that banding together in numbers would help protect them as Draco bounded off to try and help Ron and Harry. Ashley quickly found that Hermione and Ginny were not in the Gryffindor Tower as she expected. Wouldn’t they most likely try to clear the towers of children? Perhaps in all this chaos everything was up in the air. It was a possibility that it could’ve happened quickly enough; after all, Ashley was going through the same obstacles it took to get there, even more so now that she was trying to get back where Draco had pushed her away.
The Great Hall.
Ashley spat and coughed violently. Her eyes rejecting her wish to open them. All she could see was the few seconds of brown smoke, and then she had to shut them again.
She forced her eyes open when she heard a whizzing fly by her ears. Despite their watering, she looked quickly into the nothingness, trying to make out the perpetrator. She reflexively dropped to the ground as a green jet flew by again, knowing full well it would’ve hit her in the chest had she not moved.
Ashley shot a red jet out of her wand, not really sure what silent incantation she had commanded of her hawthorn wand, but moved quickly once she heard a groan and the dull thud of a body falling to the floor.
The smoke started to clear little by little and saw that she would have to jump over a large column. Before she could hurry out of the area, she took a look at her attacker, not recognizing the face behind the mask of the Death Eater.
She was so close she could taste it, but the tension and fear heightened as she descended further and further towards the main floor of the castle. She cried out in horror as she quickly found herself hopping and dodging over bodies, counting herself lucky that the fighting was so thick she went unnoticed as she ran by, the whizzing rainbows of spells, hexes and jinxes illuminating the marble walls and tile floors.
The Great Hall doors were already open; the screaming of incantations rang in her ears. She had no time to look; all she could do was run blindly and hope that she would find him.
If she died, she wanted to be with him.
She was shot at immediately upon her entrance, sending her sprawling underneath the tables, hurriedly pushing the benches out of the way to allow her to slide into cover. Whoever was aiming for her had lost interest, moving on to another target. Her ragged breathing sent her into an even greater degree of panic.
“D-Draco.” She quivered, tears streaming down her eyes, her forced stance of low visibility was only allowing her to see people from the waist down. Draco usually only ever wore black, but so did the Death Eaters. Their black shoes and pants made it hard to discern who was good and who was bad as cloaks swished against the bloodstained cobblestone. She would never be able to find him.
A nonmoving figure caught her eye at the very front of the Great Hall, slouched against the landing where the Headmaster’s and other teachers chairs sat. With her chin nearly touching the ground, she stared hard around the benches and the shuffle of feet, hoping against hope that it wasn’t him.
But it was. His hair was always unmistakable.
Without hesitation, without even checking to see if the coast was clear, she pushed the benches back, dashing towards him blindly.
Draco!” She called, kneeling down in front of him, forcing his face to look up at her. He was very pale, paler than usual, which meant that he was losing a lot of blood. Before he could say anything, she looked down to see Draco clutching his left side, taking it from his wound, his pale hand bloodstained with the shiny fluid.
“T-they got me.” Draco winced, forcing his eyes closed.
“W-what happened?” She panicked, smoothing his hair.
Draco took a sharp intake of breath, clutching to his wand painfully.
“You have to get out of here.” He told her, nodding towards something behind her, “Some of the others took off from there, it may still be open.”
Ashley turned to the left, seeing a closed door that that led to Filch’s office.
“I think there may be a passageway that will lead you out.”
“I’m not leaving you.” She scolded, “What a thick idea!”
Draco’s eyes grew desperate, their dullness losing color with every passing moment.
“Ashley, p-please…the baby…”
“We’re not leaving.” She hissed, her throat constricting with fear and anxiety.
She pulled him close to her, as if her embrace would protect him from everything.
“Please, for Scorpius.” Draco’s plea was muffled in her mangled hair. He clutched to her weakly, trying to hang on to a token of reality. The pain was blinding; whoever cast it had chosen the spell just for him.
Before anything else could happen, he felt his wand being yanked from his hand. Pushing Ashley from his arms, he cast her aside to see Bellatrix. The months that had passed had given her an even more crazed appearance. The beehive that set upon her head seemed to grow bigger still, the fried black and grey streaks giving the false appearance that they had a mind of their own. Her heavily rimmed eye-lids were even more so, setting her black eyes even further back in her skull. She looked unscathed by anything, but she was even paler than Draco.
“How sweet.” Her voice dripped with disdain and hatred, “I wondered when I would get to meet your wife, Draco. How rude of you to have never introduced me.”
Ashley clutched Draco closer to her, pushing his head to her chest. His ears racked with her quick heartbeat, but yet he held on, grazing past the small swelling of her womb. Draco’s eyes flooded with tears, knowing that the fragile life would never leave her, that he would never get to meet his son.
Their eyes flicked to her other hand, clutching both of their wands tightly.
“You’ve made it so easy, my dear nephew.” Bellatrix cackled coldly, “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure to give her the first class treatment that I’ve been able to give you.”
Draco’s eyes widened in horror. He hugged Ashley tighter, muffling his cry from the injury. He squeezed her so tight he could have sworn he felt blood gushing out of the hole near his ribcage. He wouldn’t let her, he couldn’t.
“Bella, please. She’s pregnant.” Draco pleaded.
This didn’t sedate Bellatrix in the least; instead, it seemed to add more fuel to the fire that was burning in her eyes.
“You’re bratty little arse was the reason I never had children, Draco.” Bellatrix sneered, “It will not detract my pleasure from torturing the runt offspring of yours.”
“Ashley.” Draco whimpered, straightening up and wrapping his arms around her neck, his eyes locked on Bellatrix.
Bellatrix carelessly cast Draco’s wand aside, readying Ashley’s in her other hand. With Bellatrix’s own wand, she silently cast a spell that pulled them apart. No matter how strong Draco held onto her, the magic was undefeatable, pulling her from his grasp. Draco tore helplessly at the air. Ashley slid further and further away from him, tears streaming down her face.
Draco looked at Bellatrix, horrified and whimpering. Draco wanted desperately for her to look at him, to see how scared he was, to see that he would take it for her if she would let him, if she had any humanity left in her at all.
Ashley had never seen anything like it. She didn’t even know a wizard was able to use two wands at once. What kind of person was Bellatrix, to know such Dark Magic? Perhaps she had become so twisted in her ways, she found out how to bend magic itself, to fit her will and desire for malevolence.
Ashley stared at her own wand in Bellatrix’s hand, devastated that it would do harm to its owner. But the young girl knew, deep down, that evil was a force much darker than that of light. Bellatrix raised her crooked wand, the incantation on her lips.
Ashley looked to Draco, who was helplessly watching her as he clutched at his side.
I love you, she mouthed.
Her whispers were quickly cut off by screams. Screams that shook the Great Hall, ringing off the banisters and cobblestone. To her horror, she quickly realized that they were her own bellows, filling her ears, blinding her with pain. Her back arched, her body trying to rid itself of agony that would never cease unless Bellatrix had any mercy left in her black, shriveled heart.
My baby, was all she could manage to think. So this is what it was. This is what Draco felt in the alleyway twice over. How long had he endured it? He limped and wheezed for months after. How much would she be damaged, if she would make it out at all?
Hot tears flowed freely from her eyes. Draco’s screams beckoned her to turn her head. He collapsed on the floor, clawing at the cobblestone, his face red with anger. She wished she could tell him to stop moving, watching as the pool of blood leaving his side grew. His anger and fight was making him grow weaker, and soon enough, he would be dead.
“Bellatrix.” She pled weakly, the pain draining her. Scorpius wouldn’t live through it, she knew. Only a few months along, no bigger than her fist. She could hardly take the pain; there was no way he could.
Bellatrix lifted the curse, but Ashley found herself unable to move, gasping for air like a fish out of water. Her hand instinctively grasped at her stomach. A week earlier, she had felt slight, little kicks, almost constantly.
But now, she felt nothing.
Ashley screamed out in frustration and pain, the only action that could let her express emotion. Hatred fueled her to pick up her head, which felt like a thousand pounds. She turned onto her stomach, looking back at Bellatrix.
“You were the reason?” Bellatrix sneered, taking a step closer to her, the sound of her heels dulled by the ongoing battles behind them. “You were the reason that little bastard betrayed all of us? And for what? You are the weakest I’ve seen receive it yet.”
“I-I’m pregnant.” She cried helplessly, watching as her tears fell onto the dirty cobblestone. “P-please.”
Bellatrix shook her head in disgust, “Not any more. If the brat is anything like you, it’s already dead in that black hole of yours.”
She was weak, but it didn’t prevent her from getting angry. She had no wand, but she made a feeble attempt to swing a fist at Bellatrix’s heel. Bellatrix sidestepped the attempt easily, flicking her wand once more.
If it was possible, the pain seemed to grow ten times over. Her muscles seized up, clenching tightly, fire exploding throughout her body. She felt as if she had been dipped in the pits of Hell itself, her flesh smoldering under invisible lava.
Just as soon as it began, it was over.
Ashley gingerly laid her head on the cool cobblestone, groaning in relief as the cement hit her hot forehead. She was too scared to look up, afraid of seeing Draco, dead, his fight to reach her causing him to have bled himself out. However, she did turn her head just enough to see Bellatrix blasted off of her feet, slamming into the Gryffindor table.
Ashley saw a shadow pass over her, solidifying into the tall figure of Narcissa. Ashley cried in relief.
Help was here.
Narcissa pointed her wand at her sister.
“This is where you end, Bellatrix.” She warned.
Bellatrix’s eyes widened in sickening glee, “I was wondering when you would draw up the courage, Cissy.”
“I’ve had the courage,” Narcissa argued, “but sometimes, courage is quiet. Something I’m sure you would not know.”
Bellatrix narrowed her eyes at her, her playful sarcasm dissipating quickly at the putdown.
“You would dare talk to me this way? You are just as dead to me as your bastard son; don’t think I can’t use the Curse on you either.”
“Your years of hatred and anger end here, Bellatrix.” Narcissa warned, her wand poised directly at her sister’s heart. Bellatrix tightened her grip on her own, but didn’t make a move. Narcissa was well versed in dueling, as Bellatrix had taught her, and knew that the student had become just as skilled as the teacher.
“Hatred?” Bellatrix cackled, “I can see, Cissy! You are truly blinded by the great things the Dark Lord will do once that Potter boy is dead!”
“Then someone else will finish him.” Narcissa argued, “But you are done.”
Bellatrix made a move, but Narcissa was quicker, sending red jets into Bellatrix’s chest, the force so powerful that she sent her sister spiraling backwards towards the other side of the table.
It was their moment for escape.
Ashley looked to Draco quickly, who was looking for their wands.
“Draco.” Her voice rasped, “Stop moving.”
He crawled underneath the bench, grabbing for her wand. He stumbled up, stumbling over to her.
“I can’t.” She whimpered.
“Ssh.” He cooed at her, giving her her wand.
“Here.” She croaked, pointing her wand to his bleeding side. Draco winced, and looked to her for answers.
“It stopped the bleeding.” She told him. “Where’s your wand?”
Draco shrugged carelessly, “It doesn’t matter, we need to get out of here.”
“Accio Wand.” She breathed.
Draco’s wand quickly slid over the cobblestone, knocking against their knees. He grabbed for it, shoving it into his pants pocket. He wrapped an arm underneath hers and lifted her up.
“Narcissa.” She breathed, looking back to see Narcissa and Bellatrix dueling in the aisle between the Slytherin and Hufflepuff tables. Rainbows of jets were flying between them, the other deflecting their opponent’s spells just before they shot another one.
“She’ll be fine.” Draco wheezed, pulling her along.
The couple managed to limp out of the Great Hall. Ashley trailed helplessly as Draco took her back up the path she had taken to get there. Her muscles were seeped of all strength, causing her legs to buckle underneath her, feeling like pudding as she tried to drag herself along.
“Love.” Draco cooed at her, tightening his grip around her waist, “C’mon.”
“I can’t.” She whimpered. “I just want to sit down.”
“We can’t.” Draco’s voice cracked in panic, “We have to move. We’re almost there.”
Ashley’s face crumpled with sobs, “N-no we’re not.”
Draco looked up. He could see dueling wizards ahead. He turned back the other way, the same woeful obstacles at the other end of the hall. He could feel Ashley sink at his feet; her groans of being tired sent him into a panic. She was supposed to be the strong one. If she was falling apart, he wondered if he should too.
He looked back up the corridor again, thinking of what to do.
Then a werewolf stepped out.
Draco’s eyes grew wide, recognizing Fenrir Greyback in his beastly form. He gave a soul-shaking howl, and looked back to him. Saliva dripped from his yellow fangs, his arms outstretched, long claws extended from his hairy fingers.
He looked down to his wife, who was completely oblivious, as she scooted to lean against the wall.
“No, no, no!” Draco panicked, beginning to pick her up. “Time to leave.”
“Draco.” She whimpered, wrapping her arms around his neck.
He turned to face Fenrir once more. Ashley’s eyes widened.
“Draco, run!” She hollered.
He stumbled backwards, catching himself before he dropped her. Ashley hit his shoulders in urgency.
She watched as Fenrir lunged down the hallway, a beastly roar escaping his mouth. Draco turned, running as fast as he could, hoping that running into others would distract Fenrir from reaching them.
It wasn’t fast enough. Ashley watched in horror as Fenrir bounded down the hallway. His yellow eyes glowed with an unquenchable hunger.
“Draco!” She whined, hitting his shoulder.
Draco winced as he hauled her faster. Even though he had quit bleeding, his side still pained him gratefully, but he had to make sure she was safe. He couldn’t bear to think of losing her.
Fenrir was quickly gaining on them, easily knocking past dueling wizards and dodging chunks of falling debris. She didn’t know which was worse: Fenrir catching them, or the rooftops crushing them.
Ashley’s eyes went wide with horror as Fenrir took one last bound towards them. All she could do was close her eyes and bury her face into his neck.
“I love you!” She shouted as a final goodbye.
“What?” Draco heaved, his breath ragged as he waddled down the corridor.
Ashley looked up; a howling filled the hallways, bounding off the cracked walls and ceilings. A stone knight had appeared from a stairwell, knocking Fenrir back with its spiked mace. Before Draco turned the corner, she could see Fenrir rearing back to fight the knight, who pummeled him violently, blood coating his fur.
Ashley turned her head to see them quickly approaching a pair of large, black doors. Draco struggled for a moment as he fiddled for the handle.
The bright light and fresh air made them gasp as he shoved through the door. Ashley looked to see Harry and Voldemort battling in the courtyard by the bridge that led to Hagrid’s.
Dead bodies were everywhere, there were injured moaning and crying out for help, immobilized by their pain and fear of being discovered among the masses.
Draco collapsed, sending his wife sprawling from his arms.
“Draco.” She breathed, clutching her sides, the pain still fresh in her mind and body. “We have to get out of sight.”
She grabbed him by the hand and crawled towards one of the covered walkways. She prayed no one would see them. Even though they had their wands, they were powerless with all of their injuries.
When Ashley felt resistance on her hand, she turned to see Draco had collapsed fully on the ground, his eyes fluttering.
“Draco, love.” Ashley cried desperately, “Please, just a few more feet.”
He raised his head. He looked so tired, so weak.
“Please.” Ashley pleaded, tugging on his hand, “I know you’re tired, but we have to move.”
Ashley pulled harder, but Draco was struggling. Her mind reeled for something to do. She quickly scanned the courtyard, looking at the remaining few that were dueling. A Death Eater and Auror were in the far corner. Ashley had to suppress a yelp when she saw the Auror fall. There was no one any longer, except for the faceless Death Eater, Harry and Voldemort, who were currently dueling in the middle of the chaos. Soon, the Death Eater would seek out any survivors.
She looked back to her husband. She was too weak and scared to try and move him with her wand, not knowing the extent of his injuries. Plus, if she lifted him in the air, the Death Eater would notice. They had to stay as low to the ground as possible.
“Do your Death Eater smoke thing.” She pleaded.
“I have to be standing.” Draco told her, his voice muffled as he rested his head on his hand.
“Draco, I can’t raise a baby on my own!” She growled. A pang stabbed at her heart, knowing the possibility that Bellatrix’s curse had ended her son’s life.
“Ashley.” He picked up his head, “I’m so tired.”
“I know,” she cried softly, “I know, love.”
Ashley scrambled to lie beside him, telling him. “Slide on my back.”
“I’m too heavy-“
“Do it!” She growled.
Draco didn’t dare question her. With what little strength he had left, he grabbed onto her shoulders and threw his leg over hers. Ashley winced as she struggled to get on all fours.
“Keep a look out.” She told him.
The crawl was painful. Even more painful: they were merely feet away from cover. She knew she had seconds. Draco was of no help, he had no strength to help by pushing off of the ground. He was two hundred pounds of dead weight for her to carry.
Ashley wanted to cry with relief as her hand grasped onto the stone landing of the archway. A hand clapped to her mouth to muffle the cry of pain that shot thorough her knee as she put it to the stone ledge.
She was desperate now. Giving it everything she had, she crawled to the very end of the corridor. It was dark; the evening clouds cast shadows on their hiding spot. No one would find them unless they illuminated the corner.
Ashley lay back down to let Draco roll off of her. Both struggled for air, their injuries becoming graver with each passing moment.
This was it. Surely, someone would find them, and they would be dead. Ashley hadn’t been optimistic in the small numbers of people on the good side as she struggled to find Draco. She was even more pessimistic now.
Voldemort would win.
Her throat constricted, her eyes welled and her nose ran slick with snot. She was exhausted; she wanted nothing more than the eternal slumber of death.
Ashley sat up and linked her arms underneath Draco’s and pulled his upper half onto her lap. He pushed himself weakly up towards her, but Ashley stopped him to make him rest his head on her chest.
“Don’t.” She stroked his hair. “Don’t weaken yourself further.”
They sat in silence, too scared and tired and hurt to do anything further. It was utterly silent, and yet and the same time, the occasional blood curdling scream rang out. She didn’t know it if was from outside or someone deep inside the castle. What kind of torture must they be going through for their cries to penetrate through the thick, stone walls?
Ashley clasped her eyes shut, as if blinding herself to the chaos would keep the sounds of war from reaching her ears. Tears fell freely down her face, spilling onto her dirty Healer robes. She struggled to stifle whimpers.
“Ashley?” He croaked.
“Y-yes?” She choked, trying to keep her voice steady. She couldn’t let him panic. A Healer couldn’t let her patient sense her fear and hopelessness, even when she knew there was nothing left to be done.
“I’m glad you found me.” He adjusted his head on her chest, hugging her weakly as he tried to get closer.
Ashley adjusted her legs to frame him on either side, as if her physical protection could guard him from any spell.
“Oh, love.” Was all she could manage. The emotion was becoming overwhelming. If it was the time for sentimental exchanges, she couldn’t bring herself to do it.
“Sing me something.” Draco requested weakly, looking up at her. His blond hair was dirty and caked with blood from a cut that had clotted a while ago. His grey eyes looked up at her pleadingly, glassy with an onslaught of oncoming tears. With a shaking hand, he gently grabbed one of her long locks, and tugged on it, like he always did when he had to leave her.
Like a final goodbye.
She closed her eyes, her face constricting with emotion.
“As my final request of you.” Draco pushed her gently.
“Draco,” her voice rasped, “we’re not going to die.”
“Ashley.” He shook his head gently, “Love.”
It was a plea, telling her to come to grips with the reality he knew she knew, but didn’t want to acknowledge.
If he felt hat everything was going to be okay, one way or the other, she could let herself come to the same terms.
Of all the songs of her childhood, she chose one that couldn’t have been more fitting. She opened her mouth, her notes raspy and rough, but after several clearings of her throat, her voice rang sadly:
This is a place where I don't feel alone
This is a place where I feel at home
And I built a home
For you, for me
“I-I can’t finish.” She sputtered, the reality of it becoming too much.
She tried to concentrate on her breathing, on the feeling of his hair between her fingers, of the solidness of his body on her lap. She rested her head against the stone wall, hoping that when he faded, she would take her with him.
“He’s not alive, is he?” Draco couldn’t bring himself to look at her this time, but rubbed the material that lay over her stomach.
“Be still, love.” She hushed him, not wanting to think about losing the most important thing in her life.
She felt him sobbing against her, muffled in her shirt, his broad shoulders shaking violently.
“He’s coming with us, Draco.” She said softly.
She hugged him closer to her, hoping that he could feel every ounce of love in her touch. Ashley looked up to the gray, dark sky, wondering if there would be something to come and save them.
Before they could do anything, there was a blinding white light, encompassing the whole courtyard.
And then everything went black.
She felt a gentle shaking of her shoulder.
Who was this greeting her in death?
She didn’t want to open her eyes. Her body was aching miserably, and every move she made sent fire burning through her muscles. She thought death was supposed to be a release of pain, but here, she felt it a thousand times over. Maybe if she lie still enough, they would leave her alone.
She recognized that voice. Did they die too?
After several moments she forced her eyes open.
Her vision was blurry at first, but Emily, a fellow Healer, slowly came into view. Her shoulder length dirty blonde hair tickled Ashley’s face as she leaned over her.
“Emily?” She breathed, “Are you dead too?”
Emily gave her a soft smile, “No, and you aren’t either.”
“Where am I?” She asked wearily, trying to sit up. She instantly regretted it; the feeling of a sledgehammer struck a blow to her head. The pain was blinding, but she tried to steady her breathing and concentrate on things she knew were true.
We were in a battle. I am not dead. Draco was with me.
Her eyes widened and her senses sharpened as panic filled her body. Darting eyes searched the courtyard, where many Healers dressed in lime green robes were bending over the wounded and collecting the dead on summoned litters.
“Where’s Draco?” She panicked, grabbing Emily’s shoulders.
“He’s fine.” Emily assured her quickly, “He panicked when he awoke before you. Had to stun him a few times. They’re bandaging him up now. He’ll be relieved to know you’re alive.”
Ashley arose quickly, nausea attacking her, making her stumble. Her vision crossed, and she thought she might lose what little contents remained in her stomach.
“Steady.” Emily cooed softly, grabbing her arm gently.
“Take me to him.” Ashley whimpered. An onslaught of emotion overcame her at the thought of seeing him alive, when she was so sure they were going to die.
Emily took her across the courtyard, helping her weave in between Healers carrying stretchers of patients.
When the band of Healers had passed, the opening revealed Draco wincing as he held up his shirt for a Healer to put bandages on.
He nodded his head at something the Healer had said groggily, when he looked up to her.
His face registered shock, as he pushed himself off the bench and took a few limping steps until he threw himself at her. Ashley squeezed his neck tightly, burying her face in his hair, inhaling his minty scent.
“I thought you were dead.” Draco pushed her back to frame her face with his hands, “I just woke up, or else I wouldn’t have left you.”
“It’s okay.” Ashley cried, tears streaming down her face.
They looked at each other for a moment, relishing in each other’s lives, when Ashley asked, “Where’s Narcissa?”
“They’ve only just been able to enter the castle.” Emily answered, struggling to help another Healer carry supplies, “She’s probably still in there.”
“We have to go.” Ashley took his hand, and started to lead him towards the Entrance Hall doors.
She slowed her pace when the broken castle loomed near. It was only hours before that she had nearly lost her life, and the chance of ever seeing Draco again. Her husband clung to her hand, squeezing it reassuringly.
“Together.” He pushed gently.
“I-I almost lost you.” She strained.
“And we’ll lose Narcissa if we don’t hurry.”
The couple limped forward, their injuries still fresh within their bodies.
Ashley staggered up the steps, quickly recovering as Draco wrapped his arm around her waist, hoisting her up.
Ashley wanted to ask about Narcissa, needing her fears to be quelled. But she was more afraid that if the subject was brought up, she would jinx it, as if dooming her mother-in-law.
Their hearts pounded as they neared the archway that would reveal an onslaught of answers. Healers were already coming and going, more replacing them as they brushed pass the wounded couple.
It was a graveyard.
Ashley had to stifle a moan as a sea of bodies lay strewn within the room. She squeezed Draco’s shoulders, as if to confirm that he was still alive, and not somewhere within the pile. Some bodies lay across the tops of tables, others bent at awkward angles in the corners, bones and tissue exposed as a result of being attacked with Dark magic.
She could feel Draco tense immediately, trying not to reveal panicked emotions as the possibility of his mother being among them became more real with each step they took.
But there was one person, not dressed in the likeness of lime green robes, but in all black, with their head buried in their hands as they sat on the edge of a bench.
“Is that her?’ Draco breathed.
They stumbled across bodies in anxiousness, quickly apologizing to the bodies as they touched for disturbing their resting states.
“Mother.” Draco called, abandoning Ashley’s side and rushing towards Narcissa. He dropped to the ground, gently pulling her hands from her face. Ashley had never seen her so undone: red-rimmed eyes, no color to her complexion, her blonde hair unkempt. Something drew Ashley’s attention away from mother and son, to the ground, just feet from Narcissa.
A tremble overtook the young Veela. Carefully, she drew nearer, just to make sure she was dead. Bellatrix was still, but she had the same crazed look on her face. Her sea of black hair was splayed across the blood-splattered cobblestone, her gray eyes glassy with death. She looked like she always did, but it was the stillest she had ever seen her.
A painful throbbing overtook her side, sending her to her knees, gasping for breath. Apparently, Bellatrix’s curse still had grips on her, even though the caster had long been dead.
Ashley scooted on the floor, leaning up against the benches to face Narcissa and Draco.
Narcissa stared dully at a spot on the floor, unresponsive to Draco’s kind touches and murmurs of condolences.
“She crossed the line.” Narcissa finally croaked, “She tried to hurt my family. No sister of mine would do such a thing.”
Narcissa’s lips disappeared into thin line. The action reminded Ashley of Professor McGonagall. She hoped, although she wouldn’t be able to find out now, that her favorite teacher had made it out unscathed.
“My two children,” her eyes flecked with tears, “have been at the hand of Bellatrix’s Crutacius curse.”
Narcissa’s eyes flickered over to Ashley. Before she could speak, her tears spilled over.
“And my grandson?”
Ashley shut her eyes tight, as if she could sink through the floor and into nothingness. She wanted to ignore the question; it hurt too much to know the answer.
They knew she had learned spells for detections and health statuses during pregnancy.
But would they make her do it on herself?
She felt a hand on her thigh, willing her eyes open.
“Love.” Draco croaked, a desperate pleading in his voice.
Ashley shook her head, squeezing her eyes tighter. She felt her arms and legs draw in, locking her up into a tight ball.
“Ashley.” Narcissa breathed. She too, had come from her seat and knealt beside her.
“I-I can’t.” She sobbed, “Please don’t make me.”
Draco stroked her hair gently, “If you don’t, another Healer will.”
Ashley opened her eyes to look at him, “I know I already failed.”
Draco’s eyes spilled over with tears. It was only on a handful of occasions she had seen him cry.
“Failed?” He croaked disbelivingly, “Failed? Ashley, you have done nothing wrong.”
“I’m sorry.” She whispered. “He’s not there anymore.”
“Oh, dear.” Narcissa smoothed her cheek, “There is still hope.”
“He stopped moving after she hit me.”
There was a slight reaction from them both. She was sure they were nearly dying from heartbreak inside, but revealing such anger and sadness would make her clam up and prevent them from ever knowing. They were so close to coaxing her in for answers.
Narcissa couldn’t hold it any longer. Her face screwed up as more tears spilled over, she covered her face in agony.
“A lot of people have died, Ashley.” Draco told her, “But there can still be life, too.”
Ashley lifted her hand containing her wand; however, she was shaking so severely she dropped it. Fumbling for it, her heart wrenched as Draco gingerly put it back in her hand, encompassing hers. Willingly, she let him turn her wand to her stomach.
“Let us be at peace.” Draco pleaded with her.
Ashley looked at him, and then back at her wand, with his hand locked over hers. She knew the words, she need only mutter them.
What would she do if Scorpius was dead? How could she ever forgive herself? Of course, there wasn’t anything she could have done differently, except come after Draco at all. But that wasn’t an option; he was a necessity to her life.
A thin string of gray matter flowed from her wand, like the starting of a Patronus. The whispy string eventually broke off and wormed its way through her bloddied shirt. She gasped, feeling icy cold and then warm all over, making her drowsy with the heat.
She sat there for several moments, her breath caught in her throat.
Clenching her teeth, she tried to prevent herself from bursting into tears. There was a reaction either way, so why was it taking so long?
“What’s happening?” Draco panicked, looking from her to her stomach.
Ashley ignored the question, staring hard at her midsection, willing for an answer.
A ghostly barbed tongue slithered its way through her shirt, followed by eerily gray eyes and a lengthy body. The snake rattled a noiseless rattler. It looked at Ashley, slithering its tongue in greeting. It dropped its head low, contracting its body to make her way to her face, wrapping its transparent form around her neck. A cool sensation overtook her as she watched the snake’s head. It gave her one last look then disintegrated into thin air like a whisper.
She burst into tears.
Narcissa and Draco panicked. Narcissa started crying again, and Draco was on the verge of tears once more.
“What was it? What did it mean?” Draco shook her violently, “Ashley, answer me!”
Ashley choked as she tried to clear her throat. “He’s okay. The snake was his Patronus.”
Narcissa laughed despite her tears. Both mother and son leaned in for a triangular hug, clinging to her hard.
Draco kissed her repeadtely, thanking her for keeping their child so well protected.
Helping her up gingerly, as if mishandling her would cause the tides to turn, they headed back towards the courtyard.
The trio walked out with other survivors, some who were being escorted by other Healers and Aurors to St. Mungo's. Others had stumbled out on their own, healers rushed towards the survivors, whisking them off to medicinal stations where medicines were being distributed and physical examinations were taking place.
Emily found them again, a worried look on her face, “Oh, Mrs. Malfoy! I’m glad to see your alive! Are you all alright?”
They nodded in reply, too many emotions preventing them from speaking.
“Did…is Potter alive?”
The couple turned to Narcissa, surprised by her question.
Emily nodded, “The three of them are safe. But of course, they were whisked away to the Ministry immeaditely after. We weren’t able to wake the two of you beforehand. They were all very worried about you.”
Her last statement was directed towards Ashley, who nearly collapsed with relief.
So it was done then.
Voldemort was defeated forever.
Was it possible? A monster whose reign had lasted over a span of decades had finally come to the end thanks to a man not even twenty one?
They looked out to the mob of the wounded. After they healed, they would no longer have to live in fear.
Draco could stop running.
“His body isn’t anywhere to be found.” Emily said, “Only Potter knows what happened. That’s why they had to take him.”
“I’d never though I’d see the day.” Narcissa breathed.
“What will happen now?” Ashley asked.
“You both will be called back soon to help. But for now, you should go home, and rest. There’s a lot of recovering to do.”
“Thank you.” Ashley breathed, letting Draco guide her out of the courtyard.
The three walked in silence for a few minutes, before Draco broke it.
“They’ll try all of the Death Eaters now.” He announced heavily.
“You were never a Death Eater.” Ashley argued softly.
“With a mark like this-"
Angrily, Draco grabbed his sleeve and hiked it up.
But there was nothing.
The three gasped, leaning in for a closer look.
His skin was nearly flawless once more, except for a faint white outline that still made out the Dark Mark, if one looked closely enough.
“Do you feel anything?” Narcissa asked.
Draco shook his head, his eyes wide. “Nothing. I didn’t feel anything when it faded.”
“It probably happened the moment Harry killed him.” Ashley offered, “We were out by then.”
Draco stood gaping at his arm. Narcissa and Ashley stood there in silence.
“I-I’m free. A free man.” A tear hit his scar, so overcome by emotion, the single tear was the only thing that could express such joy and happiness.
Ashley jumped into his arms, clinging to him hard.
“We won.” She said hoarsely into his ears. “We won, Draco.”
Draco squeezed her hard, nodding into her hair.
There had been so much death and destruction. He looked back up to the castle, a former shell of itself. Towers were still burning. Smoke was emitting from holes within the roof. The stain glass windows in the castle were shattered and broken. He could never imagine something so glorious, so old and wise in its age, could look so vulnerable and demolished. It was soul-shaking, he had never been so unnerved.
The sounds of the courtyard still rang in his ears. The cries of despair from news of loved ones lost were almost constant, a chorus of sorrow and broken hearts. Moans and cries of pain from healing damaged bodies hit him in waves.
He shut his eyes and took a deep breath, concentrating on the very thing that was in his arms. Ashley. His wife. The woman who was carrying his child. And somewhere in the Ministry was the trio he owed a lifetime of happiness and joy to, thanks to their undying fight for justice.
It was done. Everything was done.
He looked up, where the sun painted the sky with pinks and oranges with the arrival of its rising.
A new day was dawning.
A new beginning was surfacing.
“What now?” Ashley pulled back from him, smoothing his hair from his face.
“I think its time to go home.” Draco nodded, the sound of the word making his body throb with exhaustion. The idea of his king bed was intoxicating, and he wanted nothing more to be secure under the blankets next to Ashley.
She gave him a small smile, accepting his outstretched hand. Narcissa accepted his offered arm, and the three made their way down the hill, where many others were crowded around the platform, the Hogwarts Express gleaming in the early sunlight. One at a time, people boarded, looking out the window towards the castle, lamenting the remnants of what was their home.
It was a new beginning for all. And although there was a long road of recovery, grief, and of healing, no wizard or witch was bound by chains of terror any longer.
They were all free.
A/N: *Latin for "reveal" and "pregnant", if I can recall that right.
Thank you all for reading! Again, if you liked this well enough, check out Slytherin's Angel, where this one-shot stemmed from.